Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Parents lash out at Baltimore City Schools after a school employee is charged with rape for impregnating a 15-year-old. Now there are new questions about the role that man played in schools and whether he was even qualified.
Meghan McCorkell was at a contentious meeting between parents and school officials.
Parents say Shawn Nowlin was a therapist and school administrator who sat in on parent-teacher conferences and even suspended students. It’s a position it now appears he was never credentialed for.
Nowlin claimed to be a child therapist and dean of student support at Hazelwood Elementary-Middle. But school officials say he was only hired and qualified to be a hall monitor.
“How did he get away with the things he’s done?” asked parent Erica Hamlett-Nicholson.
Her son was counseled by Nowlin, who had his own office at Hazelwood. She’s furious the school didn’t check his credentials.
“They didn’t know anything about this man, not his educational background or his criminal background,” she said.
Parents discovered the lack of oversight after Nowlin was arrested and charged with impregnating a 15-year-old girl he was counseling.
“When I send my child to school I send him up here to be protected, not for you to do anything you want to do and give him to anybody you want to give him to,” said parent Duanelle Woodard.
Nowlin worked at the school from September 2011 to November 28 of this year–two days after he was arrested. School officials weren’t informed of the arrest until November 27.
“The school system is not saying how they failed, and that’s the big thing here,” said parent George Crue.
“City schools is looking into this matter. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on it given the pending legal aspects of this situation,” said Jonathan Brice, Baltimore City Schools.
But union officials admit it’s a systemic issue.
“They are truly looking for who caused this problem, and no one individual caused this problem,” said Administrative Union President Jimmy Gittings.
The school system is now conducting an internal review.
School officials plan to bring in counselors to the school next week to explain to students what happened with Nowlin.
School officials say Nowlin was fingerprinted and passed a criminal background check. The 15-year-old victim he is accused of raping is not a student at Hazelwood.